Tablet sales slump ahead of new iPad Air reveal

Unit sales in Western Europe distribution dipped for the first time in Q3 by 10%
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Tablet unit sales across Western European distribution declined year-on-year for the first time in Q3 by teb per cent.

Analyst Context said this was due to saturation in mature markets like the UK increasing and product lifecycles lasting longer than expected.

Apple’s iPads comprise the majority of 7.9-inch (88 per cent) and 9.7-inch (98 per cent) tablet sales in the region, but both form factors recorded disappointing declines over the period.

As a whole, unit sales of 9.7-inch tablets dropped 2.9 per cent year-on-year while sales of 7.9-inch devices like the iPad Mini slumped by 22.6 per cent.

However, the largest decline was in 7-inch systems (-37.8 per cent), which last year proved the most popular screen size in Western European distribution with a share of 37 per cent.

In the UK, which was one of the countries driving 7-inch sales last year, demand for the screen size had been boosted by increasing competition and declining prices as PC vendors, tablet vendors and also supermarkets launched low-end 7-inch Android products in H2 2013.

The only segment to record an increase in year-on-year unit sales over the period was that of 10.1-inch tablets, which climbed 7.7 per cent. 

This brings the share of 10.1-inch tablets across Western Europe up from 22 per cent to 26 per cent over the period. 

"It should be added that despite its drop in volume sales, the market share of 9.7-inch tablets still increased slightly over the period because the decline stayed below the average decline rate for the segment," said Context in a statement.

"Tthere’s a strong expectation that Apple will release a new iPad model featuring at least a Touch ID fingerprint sensor today – allowing users to authenticate to its Apple Pay mobile payments platform. Another strong rumour is that Apple will unveil a larger screened iPad “Pro” model, possibly aimed at business users and/or content creators and designers."

The news comes as Context launches a new Value Chain Analytics service - a new range of analysis and tools designed to allow customers to follow the supply and demand for their goods - and their competitors.

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